SheHeroes Ep. 15 Noramay Cadena

Noramay Cadena

Noramay Cadena is the founder of the hardware accelerator Make In LA and co-founder of The Latinas in STEM foundation. She also graduated with three degrees from MIT and formerly worked in the aerospace industry.

Discussion Questions

1. Noramay Cadena is an award winning engineer with three degrees from MIT.  She describes her childhood as “a collection of memories she never wanted to experience again.” But that collection of memories gave her an idea of what she did and didn’t want when she grew up. She talks about her parents not being able to guide her through the academic process but encouraging her to go to college even if they didn’t. Noramay became pregnant at seventeen with her daughter Chassitty and faced stigma and the challenge of going to college as a young single mother. All of these barriers seemed to attract people to her, people who challenged her self doubt along the way. What kind of barriers did your parents have in life? How did your parents handle them? What kind of barriers do you have in your life?  How do you deal with self doubt?

2. As a mechanical engineer working in aerospace, Noramay worked on satellites and aircraft hardware. When she didn’t see her career moving in the way she wanted it to, she quit her job and started a company called Make in L.A. She uses the problem solving skills of doing more with less that she learned growing up to operate her new business helping companies develop their products at the very beginning stages of their businesses. Noramay took big risks by leaving her home for college with her child and by leaving the security of a career in aerospace to start her own business. Those risks paid off. Do you find yourself taking healthy risks? Are you willing to take on new challenges that will get you closer to living your dreams?

3. Noramay is proud to be one of five Latina engineers and co-founders of Latinas in STEM Foundation to encourage other young latinas to enter STEM fields. Do you have strong women mentors in your life? Is there a woman in your family or in your life that inspires you to be and be do your best? Do you have friends that encourage you?

4. Noramay’s advice to young people is that “if you’re able to get out of bed every day that is the absolute beginning of building resilience and self-esteem.” She talks about how we have the ability to change the story when things go wrong in our lives. We think that is extraordinary advice. Everyone experiences self doubt. Everyone experiences challenges to their self-esteem. Do you think you can rewrite your story when things don’t turn out the way you’d like? What would it take to do that?